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Port state control is the control of foreign flagged ships in national ports by Port State Control Officers (PSCO). It is frequently asserted that port state control would be unnecessary in an ideal world. This assertion, however, does not reflect reality, and in many cases people are forced by the authorities to act within the law. A similar principle applies to the shipping world as well. In many cases, shipowners and ship managers are forced to act within the law. Because control systems used by other players in the shipping world have been unable to eradicate all substandard vessels from the seas, port state control systems have become more effective and have provided a safety net of last resort. Port state control is not, and can never be, a substitute for the proper exercise of flag state responsibility. Flag states have the primary responsibility of safeguarding against substandard ships. When flag states fail to meet their commitments, port states must act as the last safety net in the control system.



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